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Not Sure What It Could Be: Is CBD For Me?

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Dr. Margaret Philhower

Medical Cannabis preparations have been exploding in popularity since legalization in Oregon. Lately, I have been asked more and more questions about Cannabidiol (CBD), the constituent of the plant that doesn’t get you high and is legal in all 50 states. The inquiries are coming from seniors with chronic pain to teens with ADD and all ages and health conditions in between.

While Cannabis is very helpful for a wide range of health issues, it is not the cure all for everything and, like any medication, may have adverse effects in some people especially if the dose is too high. Although the THC component and whole plant extracts can also be very useful, I will focus this brief introduction on indications and dosing recommendations for CBD because the majority of folks I talk to have never tried “pot” in any form, want to use it for a specific medical condition and still be able to function throughout their day without feeling “stoned.”

The human body has what’s called an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates every other body system including the nervous system, digestion and the immune system. That is why cannabis has so many varied health benefits. Our body produces its own cannabinoids that bind to the same receptors as CBD and THC. Other medicinal plants such as Rosemary, Echinacea, Cloves, and Ginseng have phytocannabinoid constituents that interact with the ECS, too.  

Keeping the ECS in tune helps keep all of our body systems in balance. Using cannabis products is just one way to help keep the ECS healthy. Eating anti-inflammatory foods like vegetables and good omega 3 fats is helpful. Another important strategy is to avoid over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs like Tylenol and ibuprofen, opiate pain killers and benzodiazepines such as Xanax and valium whenever possible. The good news is that Cannabis, especially the CBD component, is much safer and often just as effective as these drugs with fewer side effects.  

There are only a few cautions to using CBD for medicine.  If you are on a medication that comes with a “Grapefruit warning label” talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see if CBD will inhibit the effectiveness of your medication. If you are on L-dopa for Parkinson’s or taking epilepsy medications, do the same. Otherwise, dry mouth, light-headedness and drowsiness are the only other common adverse effects and most are dose dependent.

Dosing is best started low and increased slow.

The first step to finding your minimum effective dose is to establish a baseline dosage. Since many people report good results with CBD at low doses, you may wish to start with a minimal dose and slowly increase until you find results. This could be around 2-5mg two to three times daily (6-10mg total). Then, maintain this baseline dosage for 7 days taking note of how the CBD interacts with your body. After a week at this CBD dosage, if you are not receiving the benefit you need, increase the daily dosage by 1-2mg every 3 days until you find the dosage that works best for you. Once you have determined your minimum effective dose you may wish to decrease your dosage by one step to see if you can maintain the benefits at a slightly lower dosage. 30mg is a reasonable lower end dose for an adult weighing around 150 pounds. Some higher end dosing amounts I have seen are around 1500-2000mg CBD daily in divided doses.  

CBD oil is most commonly taken orally, which is preferred, but has a slower onset of action than vaporizing it. Vape pens are for adult use and only available at OLLC licensed recreational cannabis stores. CBD oil may be purchased over the counter or online. I recommend using an organically grown CBD product and checking the expiration date on the label before buying. CBD is legitimate medicine and could improve your quality of life.

Dr. Margaret Philhower is a naturopathic doctor with a naturopathic family practice in Takilma next door to The Dome School and at The Bear Creek Naturopathic Medical Clinic located at 2612 E. Barnett Rd. in Medford. You can schedule an appointment in Takilma by calling 541-415-1549 or Medford by calling 541-770-5563 or visit her website at www.drmargaret.org.


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